Why Police Officers Should Use Psychedelics

The idea that a police officer should use psychedelics may seem silly to you at first and I can't blame you. On the surface, it seems like a preposterous idea. I'm guessing you are imagining officers eating mouthfuls of mushrooms on the job and goofing off but this is not what I mean. Police officers have one of the most stressful jobs that can lead to ptsd and trauma. Ptsd can lead people to make poor and dangerous choices.  If we dig a little deeper, we will see psychedelics could potentially help treat ptsd from on-the-job trauma, treat addiction caused by ptsdit could make them more empathetic, lower the chance of domestic violence, help them process their emotions, and lead to more mentally healthy officers who make more rational decisions. It could make officers more mentally healthy so that they can react to situations in a healthy manner in order to keep themselves and citizens safe. When psychedelics are legal, officers will be able to go to a trained professional in a safe setting in order to use psychedelics to heal from the trauma they face from on the line duty. Psychedelics could prevent excessive force and save tax payers millions of dollars in settlements due to abusive behavior from officers. Officers go through a lot and deserve to use a medicine that is helping so many other people. 

Of course I’m not implying that ALL officers should use psychedelics and it’s not certain that this is something for everyone because everyone reacts differently to everything. It might not be for everyone but everyone deserves to be able to use this medicine without having to worry if their freedom will be taken for using something to heal. With Oregon collecting signatures to get psilocybin mushrooms on the ballot in 2020 it is only a matter of time for this medicinal tool to be normalized and integrated into our society so it can be used in a safer way. Denver, Colorado is also working on an initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. If these initiatives are successful, it will pave the way to end the war on drugs so law enforcement can focus on more important violent crimes.

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy

I became interested in this subject when I was at a MAPS event about MDMA trials to treat ptsd. There was a police officer there who told us his heart breaking story about his ptsd and trauma that he endured as an officer. It was the first time I heard things from their perspective and it allowed me to see the bigger picture. His ptsd was taking over his life and making it hard for him to continue working. His trauma was making it hard for him to live a normal life. He had suicidal thoughts and didn't want to face life anymore. He was involved in a gang shootout and his life was never the same. He told us that he was at the point in his life where he was willing to try anything to deal with his trauma. That officer deserves to use a tool like psychedelics to heal from the mental trauma that was keeping him from the job he loved. He deserves the chance to try something that is helping so many other people. Mental health must be a higher priority for everyones sake. 

MAPS studies with MDMA:
Preliminary studies have shown that MDMA in conjunction with psychotherapy can help people overcome PTSD, and possibly other disorders as well. MDMA is known for increasing feelings of trust and compassion towards others, which could make an ideal adjunct to psychotherapy for PTSD.

We are studying whether MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can help heal the psychological and emotional damage caused by sexual assault, war, violent crime, and other traumas. We also sponsored completed studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for autistic adults with social anxiety, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety related to life-threatening illnesses.”

Ending the stigma against psychedelics will end the stigma against mental health

Unfortunately, most people just picture psychedelics as just some goofy thing that weird hippies do. In reality, we are doing our society a great disservice to write-off the many benefits of psychedelics. They aren't just for hippies- they are for people who need to heal..the cops, the doctors, the fire fighters, the nurses...they could all be benefiting from this medicine. The studies being done with psychedelic therapy are showing potential in treatments for addictions, ptsd, trauma, and anxiety. Psychedelics are linked to reduced domestic violence which is a big problem in law enforcement and also plays out into abusing citizens in a similar way. Psilocybin mushrooms are also linked to lower crime rates which is good for everyone. More studies need to be done but their implications need to be taken seriously because mental health is a big problem for everyone in our society and needs to be addressed. 

Writing this blog was very emotional for me. I thought it would be a healing experience to learn more about the person who made me feel like I was not worth serving and protecting. In a way, it was healing and heightened my sense of compassion for them because now I realize how much trauma they go through but at the same time it has made me realize the many many problems that come from the way the police department is set up. They don't value mental health and belittle and ridicule the good officers who feel remorse and sympathy for the things they've had to witness. 

This mindset that having emotions is negative and a sign of "weakness"  is plaguing our society and needs to end in every area of our lives. Admitting you need help should be seen as a sign of strength because once you admit you need help, that's when you can get better and perform at your best in all areas of your life. Admitting you suffer emotional trauma from horrific things you've witnessed is the greatest sign of strength. Only a sociopath wouldn't feel remorse for some of the things police officers have to be involved in and yet they are told to "tough it out". The desperate need to be "tough" to the point officers suppress their emotions is leading to suicides, addiction, and leads to officers escalating situations instead of de-escalating them which puts the officer at a higher risk for injury or death.


FUCK THE POLICE

Many of you reading this may not have the best relationship with police officers. It is not hard to see the public has had it with police corruption. People chant "Fuck the Police" and there are various groups dedicated to exposing police brutality. To be honest, one of the reasons that I suffer from ptsd and use psychedelics to treat it is because of abuse from a corrupt police officer. You should be able to feel safe around officers but my experience has not been this way. At first, I felt like I hated the police. I felt betrayed and I felt unsafe. I felt like I had no one to go to if I ever needed help. No one should feel this way about someone who we pay to keep us safe.  If they want us to respect them then we need to see change in the way the department is set up. 

Even if you don’t like them, you have to admit that it would be better for everyone if they were mentally healthy. Most of you might not like them because of the epidemic of police corruption and brutality that we see far too often in the news. But if officers were more mentally healthy, perhaps these issues wouldn’t happen in the first place. If we put more focus on their mental health, we might create officers that are respectable, empathetic, and non-violent. Maybe that officer would have treated me with more respect and empathy if he had a psychedelic experience.

Instead of saying Fuck the Police and hating these people, we should show them compassion if we ever want them to get better. If we want their system to change, we have to put ourselves in their shoes and see things from their perspective. Hating the police will not get us anywhere. If police officers are mentally unhealthy, they will be more likely to over-react and cause the situations that people are hating them for. In order to stop police corruption we have to first focus on mental health. Police officers are just human beings and human beings are not without flaws. We need to get to the root of the problem and that is exactly what psychedelics can help with. 


Hippies create police. Police create hippies.

The graphic below sums up this idea. Police corruption is creating people who hate authority and laws. And then the 'Fuck the Police' crowd are creating officers who are overly-aggressive and in the mindset that the public is their enemy. The only way to break this cycle is by having compassion for your adversaries. Police need to have compassion for us and we need compassion for them. We are just Humans on this Earth trying to figure things out together and we are more progressive when we work together. 

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Police officers put their lives on the line every day

As a police officer, they have to deal with a lot of dangerous situations that even the toughest person would be scarred by. They deal with murders, deaths of children, severe abuse, and more heinous crimes that we might not even be able to imagine. Everyday that a police officer wakes up, they don't know if they will be shot at or have to shoot someone. Whether you like them or not, these people put their lives on the line everyday.

After everything they have to go through, they are told to "tough it out" and suppress their emotions to the point that it is leading to suicides, addiction, and poor decisions while on the job. If an officer witnesses abuse of children and gory murders and they aren't emotionally effected by it, they are by definition a sociopath. Sociopaths should not be police officers but it seems like the department encourages sociopathic behavior and this is the biggest problem. Good officers are the ones who have a coincidence and care about the traumas they've had to witness. We need to give more support to the good officers. 


Psychedelics can treat PTSD from on the job trauma


Being a police officer has to be one of the most stressful jobs and I can imagine it is hard to react properly in every single situation. Many officers are suffering from their own ptsd and trauma. Many of them are negatively reacting from experiences from their past and this is where psychedelics can help out. Psychedelics can "rewire" your brain to make it easier to deal with trauma and ptsd. In a study with mice, psilocybin mushrooms showed potential for facilitating the extinction of the classically conditioned fear response. 

Responding out of fear is dangerous not only to the officers but to the general public. Reacting out of fear from past experiences could cost an officer or civilian their life. Psychedelics are showing great potential to treat many mental health problems which law enforcement should be benefiting from. Perhaps, psychedelics could help officers deal with trauma and help them perform their jobs better. Perhaps, it could help them deal with the stressful situations they have to deal with every day. Having officers with a healthy mindset will only improve the safety of citizens as well as the officers themselves. 

I'm not saying that any and every officer should use psychedelics. But they should have the option to be evaluated to use psychedelics in a safe and controlled environment in order to treat their ptsd and trauma. If it is showing potential to treat mental illnesses then officers should be first in line for its treatment. These people are the protectors of our society and their mental health should be a huge priority. It can improve their own well-being as well as citizens so why can't we at least give it a chance? It could end up saving us millions of dollars and thousands of lives...


Interview with Police Officer, Chad Thomas, on the effects of PTSD

This interview with officer, Chad Thomas was eye-opening and changed my perspective on who police officers are. Ten minutes into the video and I bet you can't help but tear up. He tells of his experience where he tried to save a little boy and was unsuccessful in his efforts. Thomas was feeling remorse because he couldn't do anything to save him. Police officers have to deal with these things all the time.

Imagine seeing children die in front of you and being expected to just shake it off and go back to work. When a police officer is shot, the whole department will be there to back him up. They care about their physical health but why not their mental health? When an officer goes through mental trauma, the whole department should be there to back him up just like they do when there is a physical threat. Being mentally unhealthy can be just as dangerous as physically unhealthy. Ptsd is a big reason police officers are committing suicide and getting addicted to drugs. 

At the 29:40 mark, Officer Thomas goes into detail about how the stress led him to drug addiction.
"I was looking for anything to numb the pain". 

"I remember looking at my gun and for that brief moment I thought to myself I'm going to pull that gun out of my holster. I'm gonna stick it in my mouth and I'm gonna let these people come in and clean up the mess for the grief that I'm going through right now. And just as I was thinking that, I'd look to my left and I see the can sitting on my desk and I knew that inhaling the air from that would make the pain go away and for that brief moment I picked up the can and I took two puffs out of the can. That's the last thing I remember until two other officers came in and found me in my office I didn't try and hide it I didn't try and exclude myself it wasn't for my pleasure it wasn't for my fun, at that moment I felt very desperate."

Ptsd and trauma are contributing factors to the cause of addiction in too many people. If people can't deal with their pain, they use pain numbing drugs. But psychedelics are not pain numbing. Psychedelics make you look into yourself and can help you get to the root of the problem instead of just covering it up. Psychedelics are being used to treat all kinds of addictions from heroin to cigarettes. But we must remember that addiction is a symptom of a much bigger problem. Psychedelics not only help take care of the symptom, they also help get to the root of the problem.



"There's officers that have been through a heck of a lot worse than me and for them to tell me that these things don't bother them...that they don't have problems inside... I'm gonna tell you right now from my experience they're not telling the truth, their not honest with themselves, they're in denial and they're afraid for the same thing that I was. They don't want to lose their job they don't want to be ridiculed" -Officer Chad Thomas

The symptom is drug addiction but the disease is the way the police department treats mental health. They take no consideration for how the stresses of their job will effect their well-being. Officers risk their jobs and being able to take care of their families by admitting they have issues with their ptsd. They are told to "man up" and push their emotions to the side but human beings cannot do this. Human beings are not meant to deal with such intense situations constantly. Whether they consider using psychedelics or not, mental health still needs to be a higher priority. 


People in power who have our lives in their hands need to be mentally healthy


The mental health aspect of our job is something we need to focus more on
— Detective Rob Davis

Another video of a police officers experience with ptsd and addiction:

"The symptoms of PTSD came roaring back and his job performance took a direct hit. My anger went through the roof and it's not a good thing to have an angry cop out there when you have to deal with different incidents happening. I realized that my anger was so bad that it might lead to use-of-force issues and so that was one of the big reasons why I had to step back and leave law enforcement was I didn't want to end up in prison with some of the people that I had put there."
 

"I think lives are at stake. It can only help the public. Happier healthier officers means a better interaction with the public and better customer service..."

"How can it not help to take care of the people that take care of you"


Tax Payers Pay Millions of Dollars in Police Misconduct:

Denver tax payers paid over $12 million dollars due to allegations of excessive force by police officers

Millions of tax payer dollars are being spent on awarding families who were physically abused by police officers. Videos of officers abusing civilians is so common that you could do a quick google search and find thousands upon thousands of videos showing officers blowing up and acting out of fear and anger. In one case, a disabled veteran was beaten so badly that he was almost killed. 

Blind man wins $400,000 in excessive force case against Denver police officer

- -https://www.denverpost.com/2015/10/30/blind-man-wins-excessive-force-case-against-denver-police-officer/

 

Police officers are resorting to unnecessary violence more and more and it needs to end. These are people that are supposed to protect us, not kill us. We should feel safe around them but how can we do that when they resort to violence so easily? 

This is where psychedelics come in again. A lot of times, officers are reacting out of fear from past trauma and using psychedelics to heal from that trauma might help them react properly. If you've ever taken a psychedelic, you might agree that they make you a more calm and loving person. New studies may show that psychedelics might make you less likely to commit violent crimes. More research needs to be conducted but this could mean that officers who use psychedelics could be less inclined to use excessive force. This could save tax payers millions of dollars, make our citizens feel safer, and prevent officers from losing their jobs. 


Psychedelics might make officers more empathetic 

A study with psilocybin mushrooms showed that they could enhance emotional empathy which is something that would help officers react in a more professional and calm manner. 

Effect of Psilocybin on Empathy and Moral Decision
"Empathy is important for the maintenance of social relationships and plays a crucial role in moral and prosocial behavior. This study investigated the acute effect of the serotonergic hallucinogen psilocybin in healthy human subjects on different facets of empathy and moral decision-making. Psilocybin significantly increased explicit and implicit emotional empathy, compared with placebo, whereas it did not affect cognitive empathy nor moral decision-making. These findings provide first evidence that psilocybin has distinct effects on social cognition by enhancing emotional empathy but not moral behavior."

This article from The New Yorker shows that when cops choose empathy it can keep officers safer and help them make safer decisions:

"From their earliest days of training, many recruits are steeped in a so-called warrior mentality, in which routine patrols resemble combat and citizens pose a potentially mortal threat. Last year, the Santa Fe New Mexican obtained a draft of instructional materials from the state law-enforcement academy that offer a striking example of this philosophy. According to the proposed curriculum, cadets would be taught that, during traffic stops, they should “assume that … all the occupants in the vehicle are armed.” Expectations like these encourage a volatile mindset, and they play directly into the tendency to see weapons where there are none, especially in the hands of black men. The warrior mentality also instills chronic anxiety."


"Rahr sees empathy as more than window dressing. “It’s a safety strategy that gives officers a tactical advantage,” she told me.
“When you know why someone is acting a certain way, you also know how to best react.”


An example of emotional intelligence:

I love this video of a police officer defusing a hostile situation and then even hugging the man who came in with a knife. An officer with a "warrior mentality" would have made the situation worse and it could have ended up in death or brutality. Officers need to remember that this person with the knife is someone who feels desperate and is going through something that they know nothing about. Being calm, rational, and empathetic will keep officers and citizens safer. Emotional intelligence is under-valued and can save lives.


Psychedelics may reduce domestic violence

Domestic violence is a big problem in law enforcement. According to the National Center for Women and Policing: "Two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10% of families in the general population". Abuse to their partners and children is connected to how they are treating the general public. It is the same "warrior mentality" that is creating liabilities in their careers. Studies are showing that psychedelics may reduce domestic violence which means it might reduce violence towards the general public as well. 

Alcohol Abuse, PTSD, and Officer Committed Domestic Violence:

“Because police officers face the effects of murder, community disasters, child abuse, and horrific accidents, researchers have suggested a link between resulting PTSD and such ills as alcoholism and domestic violence”
”In addition to these general theories of domestic violence, researchers have attempted to explain domestic violence in law enforcement by suggesting that police skills designed to physically and psychologically establish control over another person, along with training emphasizing the use of authority can sometimes “spill over” at home, resulting in the crime”
https://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu:205325/datastream/PDF/view

From the Journal of Psychopharmacology
Hallucinogen use and intimate partner violence: Prospective evidence consistent with protective effects among men with histories of problematic substance use

"Evidence suggests that hallucinogens may have therapeutic potential for addressing a variety of problem behaviors related to the externalizing spectrum of psychopathology, such as substance misuse and criminality. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a prevalent form of criminal violence that is related to externalizing pathology. However, the association between hallucinogen use and IPV has not been comprehensively examined. In this prospective study, we examined the association between IPV and naturalistic hallucinogen use among 302 inmates at a US county jail. Cox regression analyses indicated that hallucinogen use predicted reduced arrest for IPV independently (β=−0.54, SE=0.20, χ2=7.19, exp(B)=0.58, p<0.01) and after accounting for covariates (β=−0.48, SE=0.23, χ2=4.44, exp(B)=0.62, p<0.05). These results add to a growing literature suggesting distinct therapeutic potential for hallucinogens to assist in the attenuation of problematic behavior."


Psychedelics will never be the ONLY answer to becoming mentally healthy.

Meditation and other mindfulness practices could also lead to more mentally healthy and stable officers. Psychedelics will never be the ONLY answer to becoming mentally healthy. Mental health is a recipe and psychedelics are just the main ingredient. Their are many other ingredients such as being encouraged to talk about your problems with people you trust, taking care of your body, learning to control your emotions, meditation/mindfulness, and many more.  Officers are taught to be physically strong but now its time we help them be mentally strong as well. 

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In Conclusion

To wrap up all my ideas, mental health needs to be a bigger priority in all areas of our lives. You can't just tell officers to "tough it out" when they experience traumatic events because their need to be "tough" is making them weak and leads to deaths and addiction. If we want less police corruption, there needs to be a bigger focus on officer's mental health. Officers with a healthy mindset will be less likely to be overly aggressive and hostile towards citizens. It helps everyone, it's a win-win situation. Psychedelics may not be the answer for every officer but for many of them it can help with ptsd, addiction, trauma, stress, and can make officers more empathetic so that they can keep themselves and citizens safer. Psychedelic therapy needs to be an option for officers who have dealt with trauma. I look forward to the future where psychedelics are legal and our society puts more value in mental health care.


Resources for further information:


Badge of life:

Badge of Life is a non-profit whose mission is to raise awareness of the dangers of police stress and they are aware that mental health needs to be a bigger priority: 

"It is clear, however, that when efforts are focused on mental health, instead of the narrower “suicide prevention,” there can be be benefits that include not only suicide prevention, but fewer:

 

  • officer deaths from shootings and accidents

  • lawsuits

  • complaints

  • sick leave

  • alcoholism

  • substance abuse

  • criminal/other behaviors

  • On and off-job injuries

  • divorces

  • grievances

  • resignations

Break the Cycle

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